Arizona Republican Rep. Ben Quayle told The Daily Caller he thinks it’s “absurd” that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama have not appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the Operation Fast and Furious scandal.
Quayle said he’s happy that there are finally two special prosecutors in place to investigate recent sensitive national security intelligence leaks that appear aimed at bolstering Obama politically during his re-election bid.
“I’m glad he’s putting special prosecutors on those leaks, because our men and women in the intelligence community are at risk,” Quayle said in a phone interview. “And, you know, these are extraordinarily dangerous leaks. I don’t even know what to begin to say about it because the press hasn’t really covered this.”
“We were all up in arms about the leaks of Valerie Plame when she was not actually in service anymore, but they have not gotten angry about the leaks that have pushed our current active intelligence community, who are deployed, at risk. It’s absurd that they did this and people need to be held accountable.”
Quayle introduced a House resolution this year calling on Obama to appoint a special prosecutor for Fast and Furious. He told TheDC that he’s astonished the administration hasn’t follow through.
“The fact that they haven’t done anything like this for Fast and Furious is also absurd, but I think it’s because this goes all the way up to the top of Main Justice,” Quayle said. “I think that’s pretty much what came out of those hearings. In my line of questioning, it’s important to note, they were trying to say is that all you need to establish is credible proof that crime is being committed for a wiretap application and that’s demonstrably false. We even got Eric Holder to pretty much admit that.”
Quayle told TheDC that his questions aimed to find out how senior DOJ officials “knew about the gunwalking much earlier than they have said.”
“I’m trying to get to a point where we actually have credible evidence that the attorney general and other people at Main Justice have not been telling the truth to Congress about what they knew and when,” he explained.
“I think that with the wiretap applications and them signing off on it – even though they say they didn’t find out about the gunwalking operations via those applications – that’s just false. No court would have actually approved or granted wiretaps if they didn’t have what was going on in the investigation prior to that and what investigation tools they were using.”
The Obama administration has said those senior DOJ officials who approved the wiretap applications don’t actually review the entire scope of the investigation. Holder insisted in testimony last week that the senior officials review only “summary” documents.
Quayle said that with more time for questions, he could have challenged Holder on that point, asking a question like “Have they ever, ever, pushed back on some agents who wanted a wiretap application and not stamped it and taken it to the courts?”
“If they’re just reading summaries and saying just that there’s probable cause, basically when we’re in a grand jury situation, we’ll get probable cause for a ham sandwich.”
“For them to say that they were just rubber-stamping wiretap applications based on the summaries — if that is true, which I doubt that it is — then they are grossly incompetent, and they should be held accountable for that because they’re not living up to their statutory obligations,” Quayle added. “Gunwalking was a major part of Fast and Furious, not just some minute detail. So you had to put details about that tactic in the wiretap applications to get approval by a, Main Justice, and b, the courts.”
Quayle said he agrees with House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa’s assessment of Holder as “not a good witness.”
Holder “repeatedly doesn’t answer the questions that are posed to him,” Quayle told TheDC. “He just answers the questions that he wants to answer. He’s not being forthright with information, either in testimony or in documents that have been provided.”
Ultimately, Quayle said, President Barack Obama is responsible for ensuring that Holder complies with Issa’s 2011 congressional subpoena.
“He is his boss,” Quayle said. “Obama should be telling him to give up all the documents and stop stonewalling this investigation, but he’s not doing it and they’re not leading.”
On Monday, Issa announced he will hold a committee vote on June 20 to hold Holder in contempt. House Speaker John Boehner said he supports Issa’s moves heading forward.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has continued to fail to respond to TheDC’s requests for comment over the coming contempt proceedings and the inconsistencies in the administration’s appointment of special prosecutors.